How is NRCS doing with regards to providing services and hiring American Indians?
In 2002 there were 1.9 million producers that qualify for program assistance. 13% of the eligible white males received cost share dollars while 20% of American Indian producers received cost share dollars. White males received an average of $20,720 each. American Indians received an average of $39,720. Tribal lands were designated as environmental priority areas and this is why a high percentage of dollars was awarded to American Indians. We also need to keep in mind that some of the American Indian applicants that received assistance are tribal organizations that use the money to benefit the tribe.
There were no cases of discrimination in program delivery in 2003.
NRCS has assisted in the formation of Tribal Conservation districts and RC&D Councils and is a partner with the Intertribal Agriculture Council. Several states hire tribal liaisons to coordinate conservation planning and contract implementation with tribes.
I will have the pleasure of serving as Hawaii's program manager for American Indians/Alaska Natives for the next year. As program manager I will be identifying barriers to program delivery and employment and will make recommendations to the state conservationist on how we can improve in these areas. Feel free to send me your suggestions and concerns.